Following her global success with the 2012 smash "Call Me Maybe," Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen found different ways to express her sunny, uninhibited pop as the years progressed. On her debut album, 2012's Kiss, she channeled the rush of first love — as well as stylish influences like Kimbra, Robyn and La Roux — into songs that were swooning yet relatable, a niche she pursued further on 2015's critically acclaimed E-MO-TION, a love letter to the epic '80s pop of artists such as Madonna and Prince. While later work like 2019's Dedicated were more in keeping with pop trends of the late 2010s, the catchiness — and approachability — of her music has remained.
Jepsen spent her formative years absorbing pop culture in her hometown of Mission, British Columbia. She starred in productions of Annie, Grease and The Wiz at her high school and became one of 25 female students to be admitted to the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, British Columbia. After graduation, Jepsen — who had relocated to Vancouver and worked as a barista and pastry chef assistant at a coffeehouse where she performed at open mic nights — was persuaded by her drama teacher to audition for Canadian Idol. Jepsen competed in the fifth season of Canadian Idol in 2007, ultimately winning third place and performing in the show's nationwide tour. Meanwhile, her demo for the competition caught the ear of manager Jonathan Simkin, who helped her get a deal with 604 Records. In 2008, released her folky debut LP, Tug of War, which featured a cover of John Denver's 1974 hit ballad "Sunshine on My Shoulders." The album's singles "Tug of War" and "Bucket" were both top 40 hits on the Canadian Hot 100.
For her second album, Jepsen went a more danceable pop direction. Working with Josh Ramsay of Mariana's Trench — who appeared on Tug of War and also took Jepsen on tour with his band — as well as Ryan Stewart and Tavish Crowne, she premiered her new sound with the 2011 single "Call Me Maybe." In 2012, it became the best-selling single of the year, topping the Canadian, U.S., and U.K. charts as well as those of 18 other countries, and ultimately earned a Grammy Award nomination for Song of the Year and won a Juno Award for Single of the Year. The Curiosity EP, which featured "Call Me Maybe," followed in early 2012. That June, the Owl City duet "Good Time" arrived and peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts. Jepsen's second album, Kiss, appeared in September 2012. It debuted in the Top Ten in Canada and the U.S. and won Album of the Year and Pop Album of the Year Juno Awards a year later. The Japan-only release Kiss: The Remix appeared in 2013.
Jepsen began work on her third album in early 2013, collaborating with producers Ramsay, Stewart, and Max Martin on songs inspired by '80s pop and folk. In early 2014, she began a 12-week run as the lead role in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. She returned with new music in March 2015 with "I Really Like You," which became another Top 40 hit. Featuring collaborations with songwriters including Sia, Devonté Hynes, and Ariel Rechtshaid, and producers such as Mattman & Robin and Greg Kurstin, her third full-length, E-MO-TION, arrived that August. Boasting a more mature sound, the album was a Top Ten hit in Canada and a Top 20 hit in the U.S., and was ultimately shortlisted for the 2016 Polaris Prize. Jepsen made appearances on Bleachers' Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2 in 2015 and the Knocks' debut album a year later. In early 2016, Jepsen played Frenchy in the live television performance of Grease and recorded the theme song to Fuller House, the reboot of the family sitcom Full House. In August 2016, she released E-MO-TION: Side B, an EP featuring eight tracks that had been in consideration for the album. The following May, another E-MO-TION outtake, "Cut to the Feeling," featured in the animated film Leap, in which Jepsen voiced the character Odette. Following a tour with Katy Perry, in November 2018 Jepsen released the single "Party for One." The following May, she returned with her fourth full-length Dedicated, which incorporated tropical pop and other 2010s trends into her sound. ~ Heather Phares & James Christopher Monger